The Salty Dog—Canine Chic
Author: Ann DeMart | Photographer: photography by anne
Goodbye Kitty; Hello Doggie.
What is it about Jake, that Salty Dog? The legendary retriever captivates everyone who encounters his furry little face and yellow sou’wester hat. From his very first appearance on a few T-shirts that promoted his home, the Salty Dog Café, Jake has grown into a national fashion phenomenon. Today, his familiar logo is running rings around those prancing polo ponies. His bark is bigger than that classic alligator’s bite and he’s chasing that pretty kitty up a tree.
Visit the Salty Dog’s website, saltydog.com, and take a look at the amazing number of fan photographs from near and far. From hip kids, teens and adults to babies, grandmas and even marine battalions in Iraq, all are swayed by Jake’s sartorial charms. Entire families wear Salty Dog shirts at reunions and get-togethers. Baseball and volleyball teams rally around the dog. In photo after photo, you’ll see folks sporting his famous profile and hat on everything from board shorts, belts and beach towels to every variety of hat and T-shirt imaginable. Dogs, cats, bunnies and even a chinchilla display their admiration for the Salty Dog by wearing his bandanas, collars and caps in the Pet Photo section. Jake even has a Facebook page which, although just launched in February, had logged in more than 1,000 friends at last count.
It seems that every visitor to Hilton Head Island has to have at least a little Salty Dog, and some people just can’t get enough of the popular pup who reminds them of fond, fun memories of their island vacation and the Salty Dog Café at South Beach. His loyal fan base has grown as families come back to Hilton Head year after year. Now people who visited as kids are bringing their children to South Beach Marina to listen to Dave Kimberly and Bruce Crichton while their parents relax, sip a cool beer and watch the sunset.
The craze began not long after the Salty Dog Café opened in 1987, when simple T-shirts were first sold at the family-friendly spot. The cult of the canine took off on its own, and blossomed into a full fashion line that now includes apparel for men, women, kids, pets and even refreshments (in the form of coolers and bottle covers). Salty Dog recently branched out, offering new, high-quality fabrics for both men and women, as well as a full line of golf wear, which combines two of everyone’s favorite pastimes on Hilton Head. Even golf clubs can wear a bit of the dog; Jake-head club covers are as practical as they are hilarious.
The best news is that, despite the demand, this fashion trend is still a great bargain. In 1987, the original T-shirts sold for $8. Now, after more than 20 years, the cost of putting on the dog is within reach of even the most frugal fashionista. The classic white T-shirt is only $14.95; the average colored shirt, a mere $15.95. Compared to department store shirts (without a Jake, mind you) or other souvenir clothing lines, Salty Dog items are a fashion find.
Salty Dog gear makes great gifts for birthdays, holidays and special occasions. You can even send a virtual Salty Dog gift to your favorite fan. Consider a theme-shirt—the retro dog shirt, the Rasta dog, an Easter shirt—or even an umbrella or inflatable pool toy. The Salty Dog T-shirt Factory ships anywhere; even better, delivery is free.
Take a look at the website for ideas, and you’ll be inspired by all the ways you can wear the dog. Maybe a tasteful belt or bandana is akin to your understated fashion sense; it’s good to add a touch of whimsy in your more conservative attire. Or go all out, like the bounding best friend himself, and layer on shirts, sweatshirts, a jacket and a hat. Like his owner who, according to legend, was saved from a salty demise by the renowned pooch, you might find Jake brings you some luck.
It’s easy to slip a little Salty Dog into your style. You can purchase Jake-adorned clothing, gear and other items at several Salty Dog T-Shirt Factory locations, as well as online at saltydog.com. And don’t forget to visit Jake at the Salty Dog Café, Jake’s Pizza, the Wreck of the Salty Dog restaurant, Land’s End Tavern or the Lost Parrott Java and Smoothie Bar at South Beach Marina, just outside Sea Pines.
The Salty Dog T-Shirt Factory & Jake’s Cargo
South Beach Marina at Sea Pines
(Take the main entrance into Sea Pines, follow Greenwood Drive and turn right onto Sea Pines Drive)
T-Shirt Factory: 843-671-2232; Jake’s Cargo: 843-671-5022.
The Salty Dog T-Shirt Factory at Arrow Road
(Exit the Sea Pines traffic circle onto Palmetto Bay Road and take a left onto Arrow Road. The shop is ½ mile on the right). 843-842-6331.